Last month I wrote about the mind-body connection. How our thoughts and emotions can have a very real physical impact and how our bodies communicate with us through physical ailments such as chronic pelvic pain. Fortunately our bodies can also communicate with our minds in more subtle ways. However, most of us don’t actually take the time or know how to listen. This has certainly been true for most of my life and, honestly, is still true for me most days. Taking time to be still without any distractions is a direct contradiction to the culture around us. Yet there is a treasure waiting for us when we do, and we don’t have to look any further than within ourselves.
As I progress down my own healing journey I am slowly learning how to listen to my body. My initial experiences came with the help of someone who has already learned the benefits of the mind-body-spirit connection. I am very grateful to Mary Ruth Velicki and all she has shared about her own healing journey. While many others have also been influential in my mind-body-spirit connection discovery, some of my first experiences were during holistic bodywork sessions with her.*
During one of these sessions Mary Ruth monitored my body’s natural rhythm to gain insight on how I might spend regular time tuning into my body. As I stood comfortably in place my body gently swayed in its natural, almost imperceptible, motion. I asked my body direct yes or no questions and Mary Ruth monitored my body’s motion, telling me each time the motion stopped. Like many of us, I rarely take time to tune into my body, so when the “negotiations” started I asked my body if once a week was sufficient. After various questions, or offers of time, I received the clear message from my body that I should take time before bed every day to be still and listen for 20 minutes.*
I took this message seriously (I mean, come on, my body was talking to me!) and I devoted time every day for the next month or so. As I lay in bed each night, I would take long deep breaths and focus on relaxing my body from head to toe. After getting into this relaxed state of mind and body, I would then scan my body starting at my toes. I would focus in on each area and stop at any point that I was feeling tension or pain. Occasionally as I would tune in to a specific area the pain level would increase or I would get a flood of emotion. It was as if my body was telling me about the pain it was feeling, releasing it like a friend might share their struggle as you offer a shoulder for them to cry on. How many times have you experienced a difficulty and needed someone to simply listen to you share how you are feeling? We don’t always need a friend or loved one to fix the situation, but instead yearn for someone to listen and empathize with us. I think often our bodies yearn for this same attention and empathy rather than always being treated as a problem that needs fixing.
I have experienced many more messages over the past year or so as I learn to tune in to the connection between my body and mind. Some have been more subtle, such as the increase in pain around my tailbone while walking into work—a reminder of how the prolonged sitting and increased stress have a very real impact on the health of my pelvic floor. Or the flare of pelvic pain I experienced the night before I planned to take the anonymous off of my blog. Usually when I have a painful flare I can identify a specific physical trigger such as sitting too long that day. But this night was different as there had been no trigger, except the subconscious fear of whether I was truly ready to be that vulnerable to the world. That flare of pain was enough to make me delay the post another day or two and take time to confirm that it truly was the right step for me.
There have been other experiences which you would likely have a hard time believing. Even I have a hard time believing them and they are happening to me! Maybe if we ever meet I can share one or two with you over coffee. For now I just hope you can start to open your mind up to the possibility of a connection between body and mind. Maybe you can even start tuning into your own body’s messages for you. Whether your healing journey includes discovery of a mind-body-spirit connection or not, above all always remember that when sex hurts there is hope!
*Mary Ruth is a physical therapist who has healed through debilitating pelvic pain. Over years, she gradually discovered how crucial the mind-body-spirit connection was for her healing, and she learned how to tune into this connection in many different ways. She took courses in holistic bodywork (CranioSacral Therapy and Myofascial Release) which combine structural work and energy work and an appreciation of the mind-body connection. In her CranioSacral Therapy training, Mary Ruth learned how to tune into a subtle body-wide movement called the craniosacral rhythm. During holistic bodywork sessions when either something is said or the physical work is significant for a client, this rhythm often shuts off. You can get more information on her website or read my review of her book, Healing Through Chronic Pain.